ASUS Maximus V Formula Review
Reviewed by: ccokeman
Reviewed on: December 16, 2012
ASUS Maximus V Formula Introduction:
Over the years, ASUS Republic of Gamers motherboards have become the standard that others are measured by. Offering a unique feature set for the gamer as well as the extreme overclocker looking to set new records, ASUS ROG offerings are what I would consider a halo product. Over the past few years, I have looked at a broad selection of ASUS motherboards, including the ROG offerings. In this time, I have seen steady improvements in the feature set and build quality, as each part of the package has been meticulously refined to offer the gamer and enthusiast the best possible motherboard for the price. It's not always just raw performance that makes the motherboard attractive, but the long term reliability and impressive feature set that ASUS brings to the table. Having gone through the ASUS Maximus V Gene and looking at what ASUS brought to the table, it should prove interesting to see how the ASUS Maximus V Formula compares. For the $279 price tag, or $90 price premium over the Maximus V Gene, you get improved multi-GPU options, an updated VRM cooling solution called Fusion Thermo, a hybrid liquid/air cooled solution, an upgraded Supreme FX IV sound solution, an improved mPCIe riser card, and more.
ASUS Maximus V Formula is but a step away from the top of the product stack. Let's see how it performs when pitted against some of the top line boards from both ASUS and others. If past performance is any indication, the ROG Maximus V Formula should overclock well and provide a significant upside in features to go with the performance expectations.
Maximus V Formula Closer Look:
There is no mistaking the packaging of an ASUS ROG series motherboard. The bright red coloring and ROG Logo stand out among the many boards on your local retailer's shelf. The front panel focuses on the ROG imagery with the name of the board (Maximus V Formula), the fact that it supports PCIe 3.0, is Windows 8 ready, and supports multiple graphics solutions from NVIDIA and AMD, as well as being able to support Hybrid graphics with the use of Lucid LogiX Virtu MVP. The back side of the package shows several of the outstanding features used on the Maximus V Formula that separate it from the crowd, including improved cooling via the Fusion Thermo cooling system, SupremeFX IV sound solution, mPCIe Combo card with a dual-band WiFi/Bluetooth solution, and the inclusion of the ASUS GameFirst software package. Some basic specifications are listed for the consumer and a full size rendering of the I/O panel connectivity. The information train does not stop there. The front panel flips open to reveal the Maximus V Formula in all its red and black glory. On the opposite side flap are detailed descriptions of each of the features shown on the back side of the package. Inside the box, the motherboard and accessory bundle are split into separate boxes to allow the product to speak for itself when the front panel is opened. The accessory bundle fits snugly inside the second box and is incredibly robust as one might expect.
ASUS has consistently delivered a diverse bundle of accessories with each of the boards in the product stack that maximizes the potential of the motherboard at hand. This bundle is no different and is indicative of what you can expect with a ROG board. Front to back, ASUS has the user covered with the instruction manual, driver disk, "Do not Disturb" door tag, and SATA cable labels. The hardware part of the bundle is impressive, as a large part of it adds functionality that might otherwise go unnoticed. You get six SATA cables (four 6Gbps, two 3Gbps), ASUS Q-Connectors, 2-in-1 RF cable, ROG Connect cable, two WiFi ring antennas, SLI bridge connector, mPCIe Combo card with a dual-band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n module + Bluetooth v4.0/3.0+HS module, and an I/O shield.
When you look deeper into the bundle, you get a feel for how deep the thought process is at ASUS as the company strives to offer the best components for the end user. Things such as the Q-Connectors may seem so trivial, but actually make life easier for those of us with large hands. Putting those front panel leads onto the motherboard has never been easier and is something I miss each time I take an ASUS board out of the test system. Then there is the ASUS I/O shield that reduces EFI interference through the back I/O panel and reduces injuries due to no knockouts left in the panel with sharp edges. The mPCIe module is equipped with a dual-band (2.4/5.0GHz) WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n module + Bluetooth v4.0/3.0+HS module, which adds functionality to the Maximus V Formula, including wireless connectivity and Internet sharing. This module also supports the use of a mSATA drive as a way to take advantage of ASUS SSD Caching or Intel's Rapid Storage technology to accelerate a mechanical drive.
So far, it seems ASUS has put together a pretty strong package and bundle. Let's take a look at the Maximus V Formula and see what the board has to offer enthusiasts and gamers looking for that next part of the puzzle that is going to help improve the gaming experience.
Maximus V Formula Closer Look:
Built around the Z77 chipset and LGA 1155 socket, the Maximus V Formula is equipped to use both Second (32nm) and Third generation (22nm) Intel Core series processors like the Core i7 3770K. The Maximus V Formula is an Extended ATX form factor board that measures 12 inch x 10.1 inch. The traditional red on black theme is used to effect with lighted accents on the heat sink under the CPU and from the Red Line Shielding of the Supreme FX IV sound solution. The layout is similar to what ASUS uses on the rest of the product stack as far as the CPU and DIMM socket layout. Where it differs most dramatically is the size of the Fusion Thermo hybrid cooling solution, the larger size of the PCB, and the ability to run a 3-way GPU configuration. The back of the black PCB has a flat heat sink for the back side of the 8+4+2 VRM circuit. Each piece of the cooling solution is held securely in place by screws. Foxconn is the maker of the socket retention mechanism, much like on the Maximus V Gene.
The I/O panel contains most of the external connectivity options. From the left is the Clear CMOS button, header for the included mPCIe riser card with support for an mSATA 3Gb/s SSD, the ROG Connect button, four USB 2.0 ports with the white one being used with the ROG connect cable when tethering a netbook or laptop to the PC, two ASMedia-controlled USB 3.0 ports that support USB Boost 3.0 in UASP mode, a single eSATA port, video options that include a single HDMI port that supports resolutions up to 1920x1200 and a single DisplayPort 1.1 port that supports up to 2560x1600 resolution, an optical S/PDIF out port, two more USB 3.0 ports controlled by the Z77 chipset, an Intel-controlled Gigabit LAN port used with ASUS GameFirst II software, an optical S/PDIF input port, and the analog connections for the 7.1 channel HD audio. There are seven expansion slots on the Maximus V Formula: one PCIe 2.0 4x slot at the top, three PCIe 1x slots, and the bottom 16x slot that supports PCIe 2.0 and runs at 4x when populated. The two top 16x PCIe slots are the PCIe 3.0 slots and support quad-GPU configurations from NVIDIA and AMD using a pair of dual-GPU video cards. The top slot runs at 16x with one video card installed in the system and at 8x x 8x when a pair occupy the top two 16x slots. 3-Way CrossFireX is supported when all three 16x slots are populated at 8x (3.0) x 4x (3.0) x 4x (2.0). 3-Way SLI is not supported with this configuration. A PLX PEX8608 8-Lane, 8-Port PCI Express Gen 2 module is used between the second and third PCIe 16x slots to ensure adequate connectivity options.
ASUSs' Supreme FX IV sound solution occupies room on the bottom left hand side of the PCB and has the analog and digital sections isolated so that the sound solution, while still on the PCB, acts as though it were a discrete add-in solution. The boundary between the analog and digital zones are marked by a "Red Line" lighting PCB moat. While functional, it is an element that also adds to the look of the board once installed in the chassis. The audio controller is shielded with a tin-plated cover to eliminate any electromagnetic interference that could impact audio quality. Furthermore, the components are arranged strategically to again reduce the impact of any interference. As you can see, ASUS Supreme FX IV audio is not just your typical on-board sound solution. ELNA Premium Audio capacitors, along with a large 1500uF Capacitor, deliver the power needed to drive the sound. A Texas Instruments 6120A2 Headphone Amplifier has output capabilities of 120dB SNR and 117dB THD+N,and the ability to drive up to 300ohm load impedance. DTS UltraPC II and DTS Connect are both supported with Supreme FX IV.
Along the bottom edge of the PCB, the ELNA capacitors and Texas Instruments headphone amp start off the show with the front panel audio header, S/PDIF output header, EZ plug power connection to supply more current to the PCIe slots when all three 16x slots are populated, one of the eight 4-pin headers that can be controlled through ASUS Fan Expert 2 software, a pair of USB 2.0 headers, another fan header, optional temperature sensor plug, and the front panel header where you would use the Q-Connector. Above the USB 2.0 headers is the ROG controller with a Trusted Platform module header above the fan header.
Drive connectivity on right hand side of the Maximus V Formula consists of six SATA 6Gb/s ports in red and two SATA 3Gb/s ports in black. The pair of SATA 6Gb/s ports next to the SATA 3Gb/s ports are controlled by the Z77 PCH and support RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10, Intel Rapid Storage, and Intel Smart Response Technology. The balance of the SATA 6Gb/s connectivity is controlled by a pair of ASMedia ASM 1061 controllers. With this port configuration, you get a wealth of 6Gb/s connectivity for the attached storage solutions. A USB 3.0 header is used to supply a pair of USB 3.0 ports on the front panel or through an add-in device. Up to 32GB of DDR3 2800MHz memory is supported. The support is there from ASUS, but other factors such as memory modules that are capable of reaching that speed is the first part of the equation, as well as a Core Series processor such as the 3770K that has an integrated memory controller that can run the number. The highest I have run with the 3770K used in this system is with a set of Corsair Dominator Platinum 2133MHz modules that will post at 2600MHz. Until I secure a series of modules that are rated higher, this is the max I have seen with this CPU. My test system modules easily pushed over 2400MHz. By using a T-Topology trace layout that essentially equalizes the distance from each DIMM slot, ASUS is able to deliver better memory OC support. Just above the USB 3.0 port is the 24-pin EATX power connection; one of four total power inputs to the Maximus V Formula.
Just above the 24-pin connection is where a large part of the ROG feature set is located. In front of the 24-pin connection are the Q-LEDs. An LN2 mode jumper is used to help eliminate a CPU's "cold bug" that can prevent a system start when running in a low temperature environment. A set of voltage measuring points are available to verify the voltages applied in the BIOS for the CPU, IGP, DRAM, PLL, PCH, IO, and System agent voltages. I'm still a fan of a captured solution here for voltage measuring points, but that adds cost that is better applied to other parts of the board. The GO button is used to apply a user-configured BIOS profile in the "tools". When the GO button is pushed before POST, it enables Mem OK to run a series of algorithms, including voltage and memory timing, to allow the installed memory to post the system. Large Power (Start) and Reset buttons are quite useful when running on a tech bench and during extreme overclocking sessions where the board may not be in a chassis and connected to the front panel switches. Just behind the reset switch is the Extreme Engine Digi+ II controller. Another of the eight fully controllable fan headers sits between the Start button and the Slow Mode switch, which is used when running below -10 ºC to improve margins and CPU stability. ASUS Q-Code LED displays POST cycle information used for diagnosing reasons for a failed POST, such as the 55 code seen when running memory modules above what the CPU IMC can handle.
Across the top of the PCB, other than the aforementioned features, are the Fan Xpert 2 configurable CPU fan headers, the top portion of the Fusion Thermo Hybrid cooling solution, and an EATX 8-pin + 4-pin auxiliary CPU power connection to deliver enough current to feed even the hungriest of overclocked CPUs. Behind each of the port risers are diodes that help eliminate static electrical surge damage to the on-board components.
ASUS Maximus V Formula is built using the Z77 chipset for use with socket 1155 Intel Second and Third Generation Core series including the 32nm Core i7 2600K and 22nm Core i7 3770K . ASUS uses its fully digital Extreme Engine Digi+ II 8+4+2 phase power system for the CPU+IGPU+DRAM, respectively. As part of the power circuit, ASUS uses Japanese-made Nichicon GT series Black Metallic capacitors that offer up to a 5x increase in lifespan over traditional capacitors, a 20% improvement in low temperature endurance, and an increased temperature range of -70 ºC to 125 ºC. The CPU retention mechanics are by Foxconn, as seen on the first of the Maximus V series to launch the MVG.
As an enthusiast and gaming platform, cooling performance is paramount for the components that run hottest on the PCB. One of the first motherboards from ASUS that used this kind of feature was the Socket 775 ROG Blitz Extreme I looked at back in January of 2008. By equipping the Maximus V Formula with its Fusion Thermo Hybrid Liquid/Air cooling solution, a broader spectrum of the user base is reached. Incorporating a nickle-plated copper liquid channel into the VRM heat sink ensures the liquid cooling enthusiast does not have to spend additional money to cool these components. Air cooling works well, but liquid cooling works better and results in up to a 25% reduction of operating temperatures on components covered by the Fusion Thermo system. Using 7/16" barbs again allows a broader section of the DIY market to be reached with compatible components available from the majority of the aftermarket. The rest of the cooling solution looks a little mundane, but is fully functional. A small heat sink is used mid board and is equipped with the ROG logo. The heat sink over the Z77 chipset is pretty beefy, with slots that run parallel to the airflow from a front chassis fan.
ASUS Maxumus V Gene was an impressive board in terms of feature set in a smaller package. The Maximus V Formula looks to add the full size feature set and drive forward with improvements that make it a more complete solution for the ROG market. Not that the "Mini Me" version was less than capable. We have seen what the hardware offers, so let's take a look at the software component of the Maximus V Formula package.
Maximus V Formula Closer Look:
ASUS ROG motherboards, and ASUS motherboards in general, usually come with a full suite of tools that can be used in the operating system to improve functionality without having to resort to restarting the computer and working in the BIOS for things like overclocking or fan control. AI Suite II is one of the tools that ASUS has put a lot of time and effort into so that the look, feel, and end user experience is second to none. This all new interface came about at the time of Intel's P67 launch back in March of 2011. With this implementation tailored for the Z77 chipset motherboard, there are five areas to look through, along with the CPU Level Up tab. Starting with the Level Up function, there are three presets beginning at 4.2GHz and going up to 4.6GHz as the maximum preset. Starting low and working through each preset will let you see where your chip falls in terms of scalability without having to resort to a lot of manual fine-tuning. A manual mode is also available if you want to really get your hands dirty and tweak everything yourself.
The ability to tweak the Digi+ VRM power control is found under the Tools tab. With the Z77 boards, you get to control the VRM power control, current limits, and voltage frequencies for the CPU and DRAM. The Smart Digi+ tab manages the settings for you, while the CPU Power and DRAM power tabs allow the user to manually configure the options to deliver higher overclocking margins. In the CPU Power tab, you can adjust the 5-step Load Line Calibration level, the Power Phase control, current limits, and voltage frequency. The DRAM section contains similar controls, including thermal, all with the intent of delivering smooth stable voltage control and improved overclocking margins.
ASUS EPU system delivers measurable energy savings when used to its maximum capabilities. There are three different presets to choose from with each offering a more aggressive approach to energy management. Auto, High Performance, and Max Power saving modes each work around five different aspects of power management to deliver power savings on this board that is built for users who do not worry about power consumption, but rather raw MHz and high end gaming. CO2 emissions reduced through the use of each of the profiles is shown on the right-hand side of the application.
Fan Xpert 2 is an improved utility that brings along an improved feature set, including Fan Auto Tuning, Fan Characteristics Detection, Fixed Fan Speed Mode, Fan Responsiveness Control, Fan Position Search, and Fan Header Rename. This allows the end user to build and use a specific fan profile for each of the fans attached to the system. It is a small part of the AI Suite, but is flexible in how it manages the thermal load of the chassis or CPU by the profiles assigned. Higher fan speeds would equate to improved CPU overclocking by way of lower temperatures. Introduced with the Z77 chipset based boards is the ability to let the AI Suite II software tune the fans. This way the system can tailor the fan speeds to offer the lowest speeds and noise when not under a heavy load and ramp up the airflow as needed to keep your hardware cool.
The Probe II section of AI Suite is full of monitoring tools that provide the end user the ability to monitor the system from within the Windows environment with five different tools: Alert, Temperature, Fan, Preferences, and Alert Log. The first tab, Alert, allows the user to set alert levels for system voltages. The Temperature tab is where the alert levels for system temperatures is set. Under the Fan tab, you have the same functionality, but with fan speed. The Preferences tab sets up how the alerts are displayed. The Alert Log shows when the alerts happened over a period of time, in graph form.
Sensor Recorder is used to display the voltage and fan speeds over a period of time. This is in addition to the alert tracking. AI Charger+ is an application that allows the user to charge both Apple and USB BC 1.1 compatible portable devices, such as Android-based phones and tablets, up to three times faster than through a standard USB port. You can use this feature while the board is in various power states.
USB 3.0 Boost allows the user to improve the transfer speeds of attached USB devices by using several different protocols. By using an attached USB 3.0 external dock, you can see speeds close to the SATA 6Gb/s maximum transfer rates. Even USB 2.0 devices can see a boost in transfer speed using this feature.To further expand on what kind of performance increases you can see by using the USB 3.0 Boost feature, you can see the performance with and without the Turbo function enabled, using both the Intel- and ASMedia-controlled USB 3.0 ports. You can see tangible gains in both read and write performance of the drive by using the USB 3.0 Boost feature. This will result in less time needed to transfer large files.
Under the Update radio button, you can update the BIOS and change the boot logo that is currently displayed by the BIOS or in another saved BIOS. The Settings tab allows the end user to pick what items are shown on the AI Suite tool bar under "Application", while the actual configuration of the tool bar is managed under the "Bar" tab.
Flashing the BIOS has never been easier with USB BIOS Flashback that allows you to back up your current CAP UEFI BIOS manually or on a schedule as well as search for the latest on line to flash. System information is exactly what the name implies and is a place where you can view the system specifics including the motherboard and installed CPU and DRAM.
For the ROG user, ASUS builds in a few other useful utilities. There is a special ROG version of CPU-Z and a tool called Mem TweakIt. Everyone knows what CPU-Z is and its uses. Mem TweakIt is a tool to adjust the DRAM timing from within the Windows environment as a way to test and tune what combination of settings perform better before changing the settings in the BIOS.
ASUS WebStorage is a "cloud" storage tool that allows the end user to back up, retrieve and sync data from many different types of devices. 2GB of cloud storage is included for free with this service. In this increasingly mobile world, having access to your files from anywhere with a keyword means that showing off a treasured picture or listening to your music is just a connection away.
Lucidlogix Virtu MVP software is included with the Maximus V Formula and is used to enable the best of both worlds with regards to energy saving and discrete graphics performance. You get the energy efficiency of the integrated HD4000 Intel graphics when in 2D mode and the full graphics power of the discrete GPU when needed, all while connected to either the on-board GPU or the discrete GPU output. An additional feature of this offering is a boost in performance when in a hybrid mode. Under the performance tab, you can enable HyperFormance mode to enable this boost, along with enabling Virtual Vsync. Lucidlogix' definition of Virtual Vsync is as follows: "Skips non-disclosed frames, where the new frame is not rendered on the discrete graphics if the current frame rate is already faster than what the monitor can display. Rather, the last rendered frame stored at the frame buffer on the integrated graphics is sent to the monitor instead to save the processing power on the discrete graphics." The last tab of interest is the Applications tab, where you choose the mode you want the application to run in.
The included software package is one of the points of difference between the comparison boards. ASUS includes its ROG GameFirst packet management software to prioritize the content you send through the Intel NIC. It includes a new interface that is easier to use. Purchasing this software without the ASUS shell would set you back some additional coin, if you had to purchase it outright.
ROG Connect and RC TweakIt are programs that go hand in hand. RC TweakIt is used on a remote PC, such as a laptop or netbook and even on your Apple or Android-based smartphones, with the app being found in both the iTunes App store and Google Play store. This handy little utility is used through the ROG Connect cable with an interface that looks very much like TurboV Evo. RC TweakIt is used to boost performance on the host PC by adjusting it in the RC TweakIt program. In the screenshots below, you can see the effects of the adjustment in the ROG-themed CPU-Z screen capture and compare it to the RC TweakIt screen capture, and see both the host and remote computer have the same bclock setting. It is fun to play with via a laptop, but so much more fun via a smartphone. This should offer up some conversation the next time you visit a LAN party.
Two full featured applications that are value-added items with the bundle are a fully licensed one-year subscription to Kaspersky Anti-Virus and a fully licensed version of DAEMON Tools disk emulation software so you do not hose up your game disks. When you add the cost of these two programs up, they would set you back about $40. Again, added value to the package.
Boot Setting is a tool that lets you boot directly into the BIOS. With improved initialization routines to reduce boot times as part of the Win 8 ready CAP format UEFI roll out you may not be fast enough on the delete key to get into the BIOS. This tool eliminates that problem altogether and works well.
ROG Exchange moves support and sharing to a new level above what the F12 Screenshot feature did for forum users across the web. By saving a screen shot it was easy to share information in a clear concise manner without the possibility of hosing up a setting when typing a long BIOS information thread. Press F12, boot and share. Easy, right! Now ASUS is taking this thought process to a new level with the ability to share BIOS profiles that are specific to the Maximus V board, be it the Gene, Extreme, or the Formula I am looking at today. Not only can you search and download what works for someone's similar combination of parts, but you can also upload your own profiles. Included is a ranking system that you can use to see whose settings are the most popular and is what the users are looking for. It's a pretty interesting concept that should be fully online by the end of the year.
Everyone likes to customize their Windows wallpaper and themes. ASUS has included a few themes for the user that wants to have a ROG-inspired desktop experience with a half dozen or so wallpapers with specific theming. My favorite of the bunch is shown below.
You get a full suite of functional utilities when you step into an ASUS ROG motherboard. All the tools are integrated together seamlessly in one package that just works.
Maximus V Formula Closer Look:
ASUS continues the use of its UEFI BIOS implementation with this ROG series offering for the high performance mainstream user. You get much of the same functionality that has existed since the first UEFI bios on the P67-based Maximus IV Extreme, through the Z68, X79, and now Z77-based motherboards. Along the way, ASUS has added functionality in the form of using the F12 key to take a screenshot of the BIOS that can be saved to an installed Flash drive for easy troubleshooting and sharing of settings – something seen on ASUS' own ROG site. A shortcut menu was introduced later on and is accessed by pushing the F3 key. Add in the F7 hot key for accessing a specific feature and usability is increased. With the latest boards, you have ASUS USB BIOS flashback that will allow the user to flash the BIOS while in a standby power state without the memory, CPU, or GPU installed. Further improving on the UEFI, ASUS has recently changed its BIOS builds to use a Windows 8 ready CAP format that brings along improved boot and POST speeds, new controller initialization options, and enhanced security to prevent any virus infections of the UEFI.
EZ and Advanced Mode:
EZ Mode allows the user to make a limited amount of changes and is more to show what the time, date, and what the installed devices are. Advanced Mode gives the user the entire shooting match, with access to each and every setting and feature in the BIOS. Advanced Mode consists of six sub-menus to take advantage of and optimize the performance of the installed hardware.
Advanced Mode: Extreme Tweaker:
This section is fairly expansive and is where ASUS spends the time to make sure that if you want to look for it and use it, there is a setting for just about every parameter on each device installed in the system. Starting off, there are four predefined overclocking profiles that can be set in addition to any XMP profiles, CPU Level Up, or AI Overclock tuner settings. EPU power saving presets, voltages, DRAM timings, and "Tweaker" functionality for the CPU, Memory, PCH, and VGA can be found in this one tab in the BIOS. You can literally spend days in this section to understand what each setting does. We will dig a little deeper on the next page.
This section is sparse by comparison to the Extreme Tweaker section of the BIOS. In this section, you'll be able to access the time, date, BIOS revision, iROG revision, CPU information, amount of installed memory, system language, and security features, such as admin passwords.
Under this tab, one can set the CPU configuration parameters, such as the bclock multiplier, enable Turbo Boost and Intel Speed step, C-states , SATA, USB, and have the ability to enable or disable the onboard device functionality. Under the SATA configuration, you can set the connection type for disk drives to AHCI, RAID or IDE, and turn on or off the hot swap feature. Under the USB sub-menu is the ability to configure how the USB interface is managed. Onboard device configuration allows the user to enable or disable the sound, Bluetooth, USB 3.0, LAN, and Boot Rom, as well as the USB 3.0 controller. Under System Agent configuration you will find the integrated graphics option and last but not least is the ability to enable or disable the on board LEDs and lighting for the RedLine isolation of the Supreme FX IV on-board sound solution.
Under this tab is the monitoring functionality for the board. Here the voltages, fan speeds, and temperatures can be checked. The first sub-menu below Anti Surge support is the voltage monitor. This tab is to check the voltages delivered to all the key components of the system. You can verify the voltages displayed against what is actually delivered by measuring the voltage check points on the Maximus V Formula. Temperature Monitor lets the end user monitor temperatures on the board and installed components, as well as several optional sensors. Warning temperatures can be set to alert the user when a specific component's temperature exceeds the set warning level. It's a tool that does work, as the warning levels are displayed through the AI Suite or via pop up warnings. Fan speed monitor does just what the name implies and displays the speed of up to eight fans. The last tab is fan control, where you can enable ASUS Q-Fan controls and set fan speeds individually to meet the end user's needs.
The Boot menu is where to set the sequence that the drives are polled for bootable media. The primary drive can be identified when more than one is installed. The full screen ROG logo can be enabled or disabled at POST, Wait for F1 if Errors can be enabled or disabled, the length of time the POST report shows can be altered, and the setup mode that the BIOS will open into can be set to EZ or Advanced.
This section comes in real handy. ASUS' EZ Flash 2 utility is hands down one of the easiest ways to flash a BIOS. It has been imitated, but not duplicated. Search for the BIOS file on any installed media, choose the BIOS file, choose to flash the BIOS, and the process is automated from that point on. The only simpler way to flash would be to use the USB BIOS flashback feature. SPD Information shows the SPD profile on the memory DIMMs. Under ASUS OC Profile, the end user can save up to eight distinct profiles. The Go Button File is the group of settings used when the Go Button is pushed on the Maximus V Formula. These settings can be a good solid base file to start from after a failed overclock, but with the C.P.R. feature used by ASUS this option proves to be a good safety valve.
The Exit tab at the top right allows you to load optimized or safe default settings, save or discard changes made to the BIOS settings, launch the BIOS in EZ or Advanced mode, or launch the EFI shell.
Maximus V Formula Closer Look:
The Extreme Tweaker section of the UEFI BIOS is where the overclocking magic happens. ASUS gives the end user the tools to get the most from their hardware. To start, there are four different overclocking presets the user can choose to use and not move any further into the BIOS. When you want to go deeper ASUS provides the tools to do so. After the presets are the start of the adjustments with AI Overclock tuner and bclock/PEG frequency. Turbo Ratio is to set the bclock multiplier from this menu. Internal PLL overvoltage, CPU DRAM ration is used to set the CPU/DRAM strap, Xtreme Tweaking and SPI booster are used to help tune performance in several benchmarks, EPU or the Energy Processing Unit function can be enabled or disabled. Then there are several drop-down menus for the DRAM Timing control, Digi+ Power control, CPU Performance settings, and the GPU DIMM Post indicator that can be used to show whether or not the installed hardware is detected and functioning. Further down this first part of the Extreme Tweaker section are the voltage tuning options. Several can be set manually or set by adding an offset to the base voltage.
Under the DRAM timing control sub-menu, you can, as one would suspect, set the primary and secondary timings for the installed DRAM. To start, much like the main tab, there are a series of presets that can be used to tweak the memory performance characteristics using the Maximus Tweak feature or one of the 14 factory-tuned presets based on the modules used in the system. Shown here is just the top of this tab, as it gets further into the sub-timings menu as you dig deeper down the page. The Digi+ Power Control section is where the user can configure the load line calibration, the VRM switching frequency, current capacity, and overheat protection for the VRM circuits. The CPU Power Management section is where the bclock multiplier is set, as well as where Intel Speedstep and Turbo mode can be enabled or disabled. The wattage used by the cores before they throttle down can be adjusted in this section.
GPU/DIMM Post is a functional area that allows the user to see if the memory modules are fully engaged and in operation. The slot assignment and speed are shown on the BIOS screen. The same is done with the GPU. The manufacturer and the slot in use are shown, as well as the PCIe lanes being used — in this example, 16.
Using the latest Windows 8 compatible UEFI builds allows the user added stability and improved boot speeds. Coupling the new enhancements with a BIOS that is granular enough for the hardcore enthusiast yet easy enough to navigate for the novice is a challenge that ASUS has met. ASUS UEFI BIOS, at this point, is the cream of the crop in terms of usability and functionality. Small things like the ability to manually input the desired setting rather than scrolling through a drop down box that speeds the work in the BIOS, overclocking profiles that provide a reference point for a new overclocking session or specific profiles for each of your differing usage scenarios. The functionality is there. Working through the menus using a mouse or keyboard proved flawless. I have yet to find a combination that does not work correctly. That being said, ASUS is constantly working to improve compatibility with the latest peripherals. The current BIOS as of this writing is 1408, with even newer betas if you look. A total of seven updates since June of 2012 shows the ongoing support commitment.
Maximus V Formula Specifications:
Intel® Socket 1155 for 3rd/2nd Generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3/Pentium®/Celeron® Processors
4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 2800(O.C.)/2666(O.C.)/2600(O.C.)/2400(O.C.)/2200(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/1866(O.C.)/1600/1333/1066 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Integrated Graphics Processor
Multi-VGA output support : HDMI/DisplayPort ports
Supports HDMI with max. resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
Supports DisplayPort with max. resolution 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
Supports Intel® HD Graphics, InTru™ 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider™
Multi-GPU Support Supports NVIDIA® SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD 3-Way CrossFireX™ Technology
Supports AMD CrossFireX™ Technology
Supports LucidLogix® Virtu™ MVP Technology *1
3 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8 or x8/x4/x4) *2
1 x PCIe 2.0 x4
3 x PCIe 2.0 x1
1 x mini-PCIe 2.0 x1 *3
Intel® Z77 chipset :
2 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), red
2 x SATA 3Gb/s port(s), black
1 x eSATA 3Gb/s port(s), red
1 x mini-SATA 3Gb/s port(s) , black
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology, Intel® Rapid Start Technology, Intel® Smart Connect Technology *4
ASMedia® PCIe SATA controller : *5
4 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), red
Intel®, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Wireless Data Network Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Supports dual band frequency 2.4/5 GHz
Bluetooth Bluetooth V4.0
SupremeFX IV built-in 7.1-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
Output Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-Weighted): 110 dB
Output THD+N at 1kHz: 95 dB
TI 6120A2 high fidelity headphone amplifier
Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
Audio Feature :
SupremeFX Shielding™ Technology
ELNA premium audio capacitors
1500 uF Audio Power Capacitor
Blu-ray audio layer Content Protection
DTS Ultra PC II
Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
Intel® Z77 chipset :
4 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
Intel® Z77 chipset :
8 x USB 2.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, black+white, 4 at mid-board)
ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller :
2 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue)
mPCIe Combo™ (mPCIe/mSATA combo card)
ROG Connect :
Extreme Engine Digi+ II :
8-phase CPU power design + 4 -phase iGPU power design
2-phase Memory power design
ROG Extreme OC kit :
UEFI BIOS features :
ROG BIOS Print
USB BIOS Flashback
Overclocking Protection :
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
ASUS TurboV EVO :
- CPU Level Up
ASUS EPU :
ASUS Wi-Fi GO!
- Wi-Fi GO! Function: DLNA Media Hub, Smart Motion Control, Remote Desktop, Remote Keyboard & Mouse, File Transfer, Capture & Send
ASUS Exclusive Features :
AI Suite II
USB 3.0 Boost
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution :
ASUS Fan Xpert 2
ASUS EZ DIY :
ASUS O.C. Profile
ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
ASUS EZ Flash 2
ASUS Q-Design :
ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
Back I/O Ports
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
1 x eSATA 3Gb/s
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
4 x USB 3.0
4 x USB 2.0
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
1 x Optical S/PDIF in
5 x Audio jack(s)
1 x Clear CMOS button(s)
1 x ROG Connect On/ Off switch(es)
Internal I/O Ports
1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s)
2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)
6 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
2 x SATA 3Gb/s connector(s)
2 x CPU Fan connector(s) (4-pin)
3 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (4-pin)
3 x Optional Fan connector(s) (4-pin)
1 x S/PDIF out header(s)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x 4-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s)
1 x Slow Mode switch(es)
8 x ProbeIt Measurement Points
3 x Thermal sensor connector(s)
1 x LN2 Mode header(s)
1 x EZ Plug connector(s) (4-pin Molex power connector)
1 x Power-on button(s)
1 x Reset button(s)
1 x Go Button(s)
1 x mPCIe Combo header(s)
2 x SATA 3Gb/s cable(s)
4 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
1 x SLI bridge(s)
1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)
1 x ROG Connect cable(s)
1 x 12 in 1 ROG Cable Label(s)
1 x mPCIe Combo card(s) with dual-band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n module + Bluetooth v4.0/3.0+HS module
1 x 2-in-1 RF Cable(s)
2 x Wi-Fi Ring Moving Antenna(s)
64Mb UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.5, ACPI2.0a Multi-Language BIOS
WfM2.0, DMI2.0, WOL by PME, PXE
DAEMON Tools Pro Standard
ASUS AI Suite II
Extended ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 10.1 inch ( 30.5 cm x 25.7 cm )
ROG Gaming Features
- SupremeFX IV:AMPed for Perfect Audio,SupremeFX IV builds on its predecessors, with a carefully tested set of audio capacitors that provide a warmer sound, and a new 300 ohm headphone amplifier built-in, it gives both greater grunt and better gaming audio than ever before. Combined with existing SupremeFX innovations such as the 'Red Line' physical PCB separation, and EMI shield, SupremeFX IV sets an unparalleled audio standard for PC gamers.
- GameFirst II:Put Your Frags First,Offering powerful, yet easy-to-use network control, ROG GameFirst II with cFos Traffic Shaping technology is revamped with a more intuitive ROG user interface. Featuring both an exclusive EZ Mode for beginners to setup and Advanced Mode for professional users to tweak, it means whatever your PC does in the background; your fragging will always come first!
- Intel Gigabit LAN:Experience the fast network connectivity! The LAN solution from Intel has been long known to have a better throughput, lower CPU utilization as well as better stability. With the Intel Gigabit LAN solutions on-board, the ultimate network experience can therefore be delivered to its users like never before.
ROG Exclusive Features
- mPCIe Combo + Dual-band Wi-Fi/Bluetooth 4.0:Combo Power Up!Hook up immediate extra connectivity to the ROG motherboard and say so long to physical limitations. The unique Combo attaches to the motherboard near the rear I/O , and comes with one mSATA port supporting Intel® Smart Response Technology hybrid storage acceleration with compatible mSATA SSDs, and a dual band 2.4/5 GHz Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth v4.0 card bundled into its mini PCI Express 2.0/USB 2.0 combo port on the opposite side. This way, you can connect extra devices without taking up valuable space on the motherboard, and get the best of both worlds: for better connectivity and expandability without sacrificing essential features.
- Fusion Thermo Solution:Sharp ROG looks and cooler temps with patent-pending innovation. The exclusive ROG Fusion Thermo Solution offers the world’s first air and water cooling-ready thermal design, available on ROG Maximus V Formula motherboards. Alongside a premium heatsink, it integrates a heatpipe and an all-copper water channel with electroplated barbs on both ends, making it the most flexible choice for power users who wish to have more freedom when selecting cooling setups. Whether by air or water, it brings better heat removal from critical power delivery components for improved stability. It also makes liquid cooling installs simpler and quicker for an undisputed overclocking advantage.
- ROG Connect:Plug and Overclock - Tweak it the hardcore way!Monitor the status of your desktop PC and tweak its parameters in real-time via a notebook—just like a race car engineer—with ROG Connect. ROG Connect links your main system to a notebook through a USB cable, allowing you to view real-time POST code and hardware status readouts on your notebook, as well as make on-the-fly parameter adjustments at a purely hardware level.
- Extreme Engine Digi+ II:Optimum power efficiency with premium components and intelligent digital design, The Extreme Engine Digi+ II has been upgraded and equipped with the finest Japan-made 10K Black Metallic capacitors, while the digital VRM design allows you to achieve ultimate performance with adjustable CPU and memory power management frequencies. Precise adjustments create greater efficiency, stability, double lifespan and performance for total system control.
- ROG CPU-Z:Whole new design of CPU-Z, ROG CPU-Z is a customized ROG version authorized by CPUID. It has the same functionality and credibility as the original version, with a unique design. Use the whole new look of ROG CPU-Z to truly report your CPU related information and your uniqueness.
- LucidLogix Virtu MVP:up to 60% Hybrid Graphics Boost and 3X Faster Video Conversion. LucidLogix Virtu MVP featuring HyperFormance™ Technology boosts your discrete graphics card up to 60% beyond its original performance through the test of 3DMark Vantage. Designed for Intel® processor graphics and Windows® 7 PCs, it perfectly combines the performance of discrete graphics cards with fast computing iGPU. Also with the newly designed Virtual Sync, users can enjoy a smoother gaming experience by eliminating tearing artifacts. LucidLogix Virtu MVP could also dynamically assign tasks to the best available graphics resource, based on power, performance and system load. This allows users to fully utilize 3x faster video conversion with Intel® Quick Sync Video 2.0 technology while retaining high-end 3D rendering and gaming performance, provided by both NVIDIA® and AMD graphic cards. When the discrete graphics card is not required, power consumption goes automatically down to near zero, making the system more environmentally-friendly. For users searching for perfection, LucidLogix Virtu MVP provides great graphical performance and the best flexibility and efficiency.
- Why choose when you can have both? SLI or CrossFireX? Fret no longer because with the ROG Maximus V Formula Series, you’ll be able to run both multi-GPU setups. The board features SLI/CrossFire on Demand technology, supporting up to Quad-GPU SLI or Quad-GPU CrossFireX configuration. Whichever path you take, you can be assured of jaw-dropping graphics at a level previously unseen.
- LGA1155 Intel® 3rd/2nd Generation Core™ i7/ Core™ i5/ Core™ i3/ Pentium® / Celeron® Processors Ready: This motherboard supports LGA1155 socket for 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processor-based platform and 2nd Generation Core™ i7/ i5/ i3/ Pentium® / Celeron® Processors in the LGA1155 package, with iGPU, memory and PCI Express controllers integrated to support onboard graphics output with dedicated chipsets, 2-channel (4 DIMM) DDR3 memory and 16 PCI Express 3.0/2.0 lanes. This provides great graphics performance. LGA1155 socket for 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processor-based platform and 2nd Generation Core™ i7/ i5/ i3/ Pentium® / Celeron® Processorsare among the most powerful and energy efficient CPUs in the world.
- PCI Express® 3.0: PCI Express® 3.0 (PCIe 3.0) is the latest PCI Express bus standard with improved encoding schemes that provide twice the performance of current PCIe 2.0. Total bandwidth for a x16 link reaches a maximum of 32GB/s, double the 16GB/s of PCIe 2.0 (in x16 mode). As such, PCIe 3.0 provides users unprecedented data speeds, combined with the convenience and seamless transition offered by complete backward compatibility with PCIe 1.0 and PCIe 2.0 devices. PCIe 3.0 will become a must-have feature for users who wish to improve and optimize graphic performance, as well as have the latest technology available to them.* Actual PCIe speed depends on installed CPU type.
- Intel® Z77 Chipset: The Intel® Z77 Express Chipset is a single-chipset design to support LGA1155 socket for 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processor-based platform and 2nd Generation Core™ i7/ i5/ i3/ Pentium® / Celeron® Processors. It provides improved performance by utilizing serial point-to-point links, allowing increased bandwidth and stability. Additionally, Z77 chipset provides 4 USB 3.0 ports for 10 times faster data retrieval speed. Moreover, Intel® Z77 Express Chipset can also enable iGPU function, letting users enjoy the latest Intel® integrated graphic performance.
- ASUS Crystal Sound: DTS Connect Expand Your PC Audio Experience To get the most out of your audio entertainment across all formats and quality levels, DTS Connect combines two enabling technologies. DTS Neo:PC™ upmixes stereo sources (CDs, MP3s, WMAs, internet radio) into as many as 7.1 channels of incredible surround sound. Consumers can then connect their PC to a home theater system.DTS Interactive is capable of performing multi-channel encoding of DTS bitstreams on personal computers, and sending encoded bitstreams out of a digital audio connection (such as S/PDIF or HDMI) designed to deliver audio to an external decoder.
- DTS UltraPC II :DTS UltraPC II delivers exceptional 7.1 surround through the most popular PC audio setups - your existing stereo speakers or headphones. In addition to virtual surround, it upgrades original sound to new levels with Audio Restoration, recreating the dynamic range of audio files. Symmetry mode improves the balance of perceived loudness across different input sources and Enhance boosts audio quality through high and low frequency equalization. With these technologies, users experience better home theater audio with ease.
All information Courtesy of ASUS @ http://usa.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_1155/Maximus_V_Formula/
Maximus V Formula Testing:
Testing the ASUS ROG Maximus V Formula will involve running it through OCC's test suite of benchmarks, which includes both synthetic benchmarks and real-world applications, to see how each of these products perform. The gaming tests will also consist of both synthetic benchmarks and actual gameplay, in which we can see if similarly prepared setups offer any performance advantages. The system will receive a fully updated, fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition, in addition to the latest drivers for each board and AMD Catalyst 12.8 drivers for the XFX HD 7970. To ensure as few variables as possible, all hardware will be tested at their stock speeds, timings, voltages, and latencies – unless otherwise stated. Turbo Boost is disabled to make a fair comparison without skewing results.
- Processors: Core i7 3770K
- CPU Cooling: Corsair Hydro Series H100
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus V Formula
- Memory: Mushkin 993997 Redline PC317000 9-11-10-28 16GB
- Video Card: XFX HD 7970 Black Edition
- Power Supply: Corsair AX1200
- Hard Drive: Corsair Force GT 240GB
- Optical Drive: Lite-On Blu-Ray
- Case: Corsair Obsidian 650D
- USB 3.0 Dock: Thermaltake Black X 5G
- OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
- ASUS P8Z77 WS
- Asrock Z77 Extreme 4
- ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe
- Asrock Z77 OC Formula
- Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H WiFi
- Core i7 3770K @ 4.84 GHz (101 MHz x 48)
- Core i7 3770K @ 4.8 GHz (100 MHz x 48)
- Core i7 3770K @ 4.6 GHz (100 MHz x 46) TurboV CPU Level Up Extreme
For this review's stock testing, I used my trusty Core i7 3770K ES. However, as an overclocking chip, it is limited to 4700MHz any which way you get there, be it bclock or multiplier increases. As a board for the gamer, enthusiast, and overclocker, this board needed a chip that could scale a bit higher. For that, I have a retail chip that scales a little better than 4.9GHz with the right cooling solution. Reading between the lines, that would be a full-on custom water cooling loop. This is the same scenario used when I looked at the Asrock Z77 OC Formula that reached 4818MHz. To offer a reasonable comparison run, the same cooling solution (Corsair Hydro Series H100) is used to see if this chip is capable of exceeding the 4818MHz mark. That being said, the Maximus V Formula is pulling from the same user pool and seems to handle the competition quite well, with a maximum stable overclock of 4848MHz.
Overclocking on ROG platforms is going to be what you would expect from ASUS, as the company builds its platforms to function almost identically from top to bottom when it comes to performance tuning, be it manual or automatic using ASUS-supplied utilities. Where you see differences are in the granularity of Extreme Tweaker section of the BIOS. ROG versions of ASUS Win 8 certified UEFI offer the ability to tweak an insane amount of settings to reach the highest overclocks. To reach the maximum overclock, I first worked my way up by adjusting the multiplier from 35 to 47, adjusting the vcore up to 1.325, and using the settings I know my ES is good for with a memory speed of 2133MHz. 4.7Ghz was good, so I bumped the multiplier up again to 48 with the vcore set to 1.335v, again with positive results. bclock tuning can be as lucrative, with this board able to reach as high as 107.6MHz by reducing the bclock muliplier and memory speed/ratio. For maximum speed and performance, I adjusted the bclock to 101, keeping the multiplier at 48 for a max speed of 4848MHz using 1.34v on the CPU.
My Mushkin memory has proven stable at speeds just over 2400MHz with the right combination of timings and voltages. Using the Memory Preset feature under the DRAM timing control tab of the Extreme Tweaker section of the BIOS, I was again able to reach this level by loading the loose Hynix profile and tweaking from there to get the most speed from the modules. That being said, reaching stability required tweaking the DRAM voltage to 1.68v, Internal PLL over voltage to Enabled, VCCSA to 1.06v and VCCIO to 1.13v, and adjusting the load line calibration for the CPU to Extreme. ASUS BIOS is such that even leaving the settings on auto allows the user to realize excellent overclocking with minimal input. Tweaking manually can get you into a position where the system will not POST. After a failed boot due to overclocking, ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall) allows the board to boot into the UEFI BIOS so that the settings can be tweaked to remedy to reason for the failed overclock. If you go too far out of bounds, an on/off cycle of the power button on the power supply still gives the same result.
Manual tweaking aside, ASUS provides alternate means to improve system performance by overclocking through the TurboV EVO CPU Level Up function in AI Suite II. Options range from a mild 4.2GHz to a more aggressive 4.6GHz. Choosing the 4.6GHz option allowed the system to reboot and use the specific overclocking algorithms to reach the predetermined speed level; in this case, 4.6GHz on the CPU and 1866MHz on the memory. This level proved to be Prime 95 stable and results in increased performance. By choosing the Manual mode you can tune voltages, bclock, and the bclock multiplier, but not memory speed. That will need to be set in the BIOS. Another option is to use the CPU Level Up or Gamer's OC profile functions from within the UEFI Extreme Tweaker section. If that is not enough, the user can connect to the board via ROG Connect to tune a limited number of settings that still will drive performance "on the fly" from a laptop or netbook. Any way you look at it, the options are there to reach for a higher level of performance.
Each CPU and motherboard has been tested for stability at the clock speeds listed when in an overclocked state. These clock speeds will be used to run the test suite and will show the performance increase over the stock settings in the overclocked scoring.
Scientific & Data:
- PCMark 7
- HD Tune 5.0
- AIDA64 2.50
- Sandra 2012 SP6
- HandBrake 9.8
- ATTO 2.47
- 3DMark 11
- DiRT 3
- Battlefield 3
Maximus V Formula Testing:
PCMark 7 is the latest iteration of Futuremark's popular PCMark system performance tool. This version is designed for use on Windows 7 PCs and features a combination of 25 different workloads to accurately measure the performance of all PCs from laptops to desktops.
In this test, the Maximus V Formula performs on par with the rest of the comparison boards. Crank up the clock speed and do some tweaking, and it responds with impressive performance gains.
Maximus V Formula Testing:
HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.
AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a software utility designed to be used for hardware diagnosis and benchmarking. I will be using the Cache and Memory benchmark tool to measure memory performance.
Drive performance in HD Tune has the Maximus V Formula at the upper end of the comparison range in the read and write performance scoring. In the AIDA 64 memory testing, the board shows it can get the most from the installed memory.
Maximus V Formula Testing:
SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key functions of the CPUs.
X.264 Benchmark: This benchmark is used to measure the time it takes to encode a 1080p video file into the x264 format. The default benchmark is used with an average of all four tests on each pass taken as the result.
HandBrake 9.8 is an open source application used to transcode multiple video formats to an h.264 output format. The test file size is a 4GB full length movie that is reduced in size to a 1.5GB file.
In the Sandra testing, ASUS Maximus V Formula delivers the highest overall score at stock speeds and is just shy of the OC Formula when overclocked. In the Handbrake test, the Maximus V Formula is comparable, yet when overclocked, delivers the lowest time to completion and highest average FPS. The X.264 benchmarks follows these results, with the Maximus V Formula comparable at stock speeds, yet delivering the best performance when overclocked by way of the highest CPU clock speed.
Maximus V Formula Testing:
Moving data to and from an external device is something we all do as a means of backing up sensitive data whether it is family pictures, movies, music, or projects. The speed with which this transfer occurs is measurable and can improve with different board partner specific tools. I will be using ATTO version 2.47 to measure an external drives read/write performance through the USB 3.0 interface. The default test algorithm is used for this test. Motherboards that support a boost to the USB spec, such as USB 3.0 Boost on the ASUS offering and XFast USB on the ASRock offering, will be used since they show the maximum potential speeds.
ASUS USB 3.0 Boost utility allows the Maximus V Formula to decrease the time it takes to transfer files to an external drive. While the ASRock boards seem to do well at the 4K block size, the Maximus V Formula delivers transfer speeds right on par with the P8Z77-V Deluxe and P8Z77 WS.
Maximus V Formula Testing:
3DMark 11 is the next installment for Futuremark in the 3DMark series, with Vantage as its predecessor. 3DMark11 was designed solely for DirectX 11, so Windows Vista or 7 are required alongside a DirectX 11 graphics card in order to run this test. The Basic Edition gives unlimited free tests on performance mode, whereas Vantage only allows for a single test run. The Advanced Edition costs $19.95 and unlocks nearly all features of the benchmark, while the Professional Edition runs for $995.00 and is mainly suited for corporate use. The new benchmark contains six tests, four of which are aimed only at graphical testing – one that tests physics handling and one that combines graphics and physics testing together. The open source Bullet Physics Library is used for physics simulations and although not as mainstream as Havok or PhysX, it still remains a popular choice.
The new benchmark comes with two new demos that can be watched; both of which are based on the tests, but unlike the tests, contain basic audio. The first demo is titled "Deep Sea" and involves a number of vessels exploring what looks to be a sunken U-Boat. The second demo is titled "High Temple" and displays a location similar to South American tribal ruins, with statues and the occasional vehicle. The demos are simple in that they have no story, but really demonstrate testing conditions. The vehicles have the logos of the sponsors, MSI and Antec, on the sides, helping to make the Basic Edition free. The four graphics tests are slight variants of the demos. I will use the three benchmark test preset levels to find the performance of each card. The presets are used because they are comparable to what can be run with the free version, so results can be compared across more than just a custom set of test parameters.
- Default test settings
- Entry test: 1024 x 600
- Performance test: 1280 x 720
- Extreme test: 1920 x 1080
DiRT 3 is the third iteration of this series. Published and developed by Codemasters, this game uses the EGO 2.0 game engine and was released in the US on PC in May of 2011.
- 8x MSAA
- Ultra Settings
Battlefield 3 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and published by Electronic Arts. Battlefield 3 uses the Frostbyte 2 game engine and is the direct successor to Battlefield 2. Released in North America on October 25, 2011, the game supports DirectX 10 and 11.
- Game settings = Ultra
Looking through the gaming tests shows that the ASUS ROG Maximus V Formula performs at equal or better levels than the comparison boards. In 3DMark 11, the Maximus V Formula is the highest performing board on average at both stock and overclocked speeds. In the game tests, the Maximus V Formula delivers performance at the top of the charts, although the maximum differential from first to worst is only 2 FPS.
Maximus V Formula Conclusion:
By now it should be painfully obvious that Intel's latest platform is going to deliver performance numbers that are very consistent from board to board when the installed components are identical. Each Z77 chipset motherboard that I have tested has fallen in a very specific performance envelope both at stocks speeds and when overclocked to similar speeds. Ultimately it makes choosing a motherboard based solely on performance numbers a bit more daunting a task. At that point, feature set and pricing are going to be the way to make that final determination. Pricing on the ASUS Maximus V Formula comes in around $279 and sits at the upper end of the Z77 price range, but includes add-ins that bring value to the package. In terms of feature set, the ASUS Maximus V Formula has an overabundance that separates this board from the masses. ROG series boards are made for the enthusiast and gamer and come equipped with tools that enhance the experience for those user bases, but are just as happy running as the family PC. For the gamer, you get ASUS' new Supreme FX IV sound solution, GameFirst II network traffic management, and multi-GPU support for AMD's CrossFireX with up to three cards and NVIDIA SLI support with up to two cards, yet still supports quad-GPU gaming with dual-GPU cards. Lucid LogiX Virtu MVP software is part of the feature set for a true hybrid solution when the installed discrete card is coupled with the integrated solution to give you some serious FPS options. During testing, when the MVP software was enabled, my 3DMark 11 score on the Extreme preset went from X2975 to X4210, and DiRT 3 at 1920x1080 maxed out went from an 131FPS average to 209FPS – both significant bumps in performance.
Additional add-in value comes in the form of included software, such as Deamon Tools emulation software and Kaspersky Anti-Virus that sweeten the pot. Most of us are using digital distribution for our games, but Daemon Tools is still an added value. ASUS Windows 8 certified UEFI BIOS continues as the best UEFI BIOS implementation out on the market, in my opinion. It offers an EZ mode for the novice and an Advanced mode that is granular enough to give the enthusiast the tools to pull as much clock speed out of their hardware as possible. The Maximus V Gene is one of the strongest memory overclocking boards out today and the Maximus V Formula is just as strong with up to 14 memory presets in the BIOS, sorted by memory IC type with loose and tight profiles. Navigation through ASUS UEFI BIOS is as easy as it gets without the mouse or keyboard issues seen in competitors' BIOS.
Gaming excellence is the primary draw with the ROG series boards, yet the hardcore overclocker is looked after as well. One of the items that screams out is the Fusion Thermo hybrid cooling solution that can be used as is, with air cooling like any traditional motherboard. For those that liquid cool their systems, the VRM cooling can be incorporated into the liquid loop to lower the temperatures up to 25%, adding stability when pushing the CPUs limits. You get dual-channel 32GB memory support (4 x 8GB) at speeds of up to 2800MHz if your modules and integrated memory controller can handle it, LN2 mode and slow mode switches, on-board power and reset switches, Probe It voltage measuring points to validate the voltages applied in the BIOS, and an all-digital voltage regulation circuit using ASUS Extreme Engine Digi+ 8+4+2 phase control for the CPU IGPU and DRAM. ASUS uses Nichicon GT Black metallic capacitors to improve longevity while running cooler. With all the high end build components and BIOS tuning, I was able to reach almost 4.85GHz on the retail Core i7 3770K , the highest this chip has gone with the Corsair Hydro Series H100 I use in my test system. A pretty stout number for this CPU to say the least. Whether you use the BIOS or ASUS AISuite II, the options are wide open when it comes to overclocking. When you reach the point that you get the settings too far out of bounds, ASUS C.P.R (CPU Parameter Recall) allows the user to shut down the PC and restart to get back into the BIOS with the last settings used. A feature that can't be overlooked, as ASUS has about the best failed overclocking recovery solution on the market. There is even a solution if you hose up the BIOS with USB BIOS Flashback that does not require the CPU, GPU or DRAM to be installed to flash the BIOS. Just power to the board.
Features that cater to both the gamer and enthusiast include ASUS Red Line "PCB Moat" Supreme FX shielding, a feature that isolates the sound solution on-board both vertically and horizontally with Red LEDs that show the point at which the sound solution is isolated from the rest of the PCB, except where necessary electrically. This essentially gives the end user the best sound possible with this on-board codec. Fan control through Fan Xpert 2 for all eight of the 4-pin on-board fan headers gives you the best noise to cooling ratio. An mPCIe add-in board that comes with a dual-band (2.4/5GHz) WiFi/Bluetooth module improves network connectivity options. Adding an mSATA SSD to the module allows the user to take advantage of Intel's Smart Response technology, Intel Rapid Start Technology, and Intel Smart Connect Technology. The software package ASUS includes with the Maximus V Formula proves to be a point of difference with a wide selection of tools, including USB 3.0 Boost, ROG Connect, Fan Xpert 2, AI Charger, Turbo V EVO Mem Tweakit, GameFirst II, Boot Setting, and much more, with each tool adding functionality for the end user. An upcoming feature for the ROG user is going to be ROG Exchange, which will bring forum users the ultimate sharing ability, with complete BIOS profile sharing and a ranking system to let you know who has the best shared profiles. This makes sharing BIOS screenshots almost obsolete.
After taking some time with this board, it really met and exceeded the expectations I had for it in terms of performance and the unique feature set that this ROG board is equipped with. If you want a board that offers it all, while not totally breaking the bank, the Maximus V Formula should easily be in the running for your performance and gaming dollar. Awesome overclocking, excellent cooling, Supreme FX IV sound, gaming enhancements, software tools galore, and the great looks ASUS ROG series are known for – it's got it all.
- ROG Style
- Win 8 Ready UEFI BIOS
- Multi-GPU Support
- Built-in WiFi
- Supreme FX IV Audio